22 September 2015
After warm weather the forecast was for a return to winter and it was certainly much colder. However, the wind was not too strong and the showers of heavy rain some of us encountered driving up held off while we walked and lunched, only showing their power as we drove to the afternoon walk location. A dry day’s walking and 14 pairs of eyes were smiling. Bob Tate was leader and it was to the Gobur Reserve first. Near the cars, a Restless Flycatcher was the highlight but we also recorded Laughing Kookaburra and Australian Raven. Into the forest where there was much fallen timber on the ground and it looked as if there were plenty of habitats for ground-foraging birds, however few were seen. Birds seen were in the shrub understorey or the canopy. They included Brown, Buff-rumped and Striated Thornbill, Grey Fantail and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. Adult and immature Crimson Rosellas flew through and a Common Bronzewing did its best to emulate a branch end. Sharp eyes spotted first one and then a second Koala in tree forks. The weather may have been dry but the clouds made colours very difficult to distinguish and there was much discussion over a shaded whistler which finally proved to be a male Rufous Whistler. Calls included those of Spotted Pardalote and Pied Currawong. Breeding season – a Striated Thornbill nest was being attended by food-carrying adults. We must have also been close to nests of Spotted Pardalote and Buff-rumped Thornbill though only the attentively alert adults were seen. A gerygone call had several people debating the species. Those familiar with the species claimed White-throated Gerygone and we regretted the absence of a sighting. Lunch time added Australian Magpie in the opposite paddock and Dusky Woodswallow, Fairy Martin and Welcome Swallow flying about. Brief views were also had of Eastern Spinebill, Eastern Rosella, Willie Wagtail and Yellow-faced Honeyeater. When the walking pauses, the birds come.
After lunch we drove through rain to Frees Road where a couple of farm dams held a suite of waterbirds. Both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were present along with a Pacific Black Duck, a Little Pied Cormorant and a few Eurasian Coot but 16 Hardhead dominated. Galahs flew across the opposite hillside and Eastern Grey Kangaroos watched us from a wary distance. We were most impressed by a roo’s standing jump which cleared the paddock fence easily. At Gobur the raptors had been a Brown Goshawk and a Wedge-tailed Eagle and at Frees Road a Nankeen Kestrel flew past. We had listened to the calls of the Grey Shrike-thrush all morning but at Frees Road a bird close to the road gave some their only sighting. The vegetation beside the road had not been cleared and it was here that we saw Brown Treecreepers, an Eastern Yellow Robin and White-plumed Honeyeaters. As bird call was announced an overhead flight of four Little Corellas was seen by some and heard by more.
By day’s end we had recorded 42 species at Gobur reserve and 36 species along Frees Road. The cumulative total for the day was 55 species, quite a satisfying result, and we thanked Bob for sharing his knowledge with us.
Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings